After over a year of negotiation, the government has assembled an amnesty plan for the Sunni Arab community and, most importantly, the hundreds of thousands of men who used to work in Saddam's security forces. The government has been reluctant to provide too many details of exactly who would get amnesty, and who would not. This apparently will be left to negotiations with tribal chiefs, who will have to decide which of their constituents has too much blood on his hands, and who gets to walk free. There's also the contentious issue of amnesty for those who have killed foreigners (especially American soldiers). But the important thing is that the majority of Sunni Arab leaders are ready to give up their efforts to retake control of the government by force. There are still hard core groups, like the Iraqis who continue to support al Qaeda, and several religious leaders, who will never give up. These men will have to be killed or driven from the country. Many of these guys have already sent their families into exile in Jordan or Syria.
June 25, 2006: Without much fanfare at all, U.S. forces in Iraq have been cut about ten percent this year. Large amounts of equipment are being prepared for movement back to the United States. Bases are being transferred to Iraqi control. In the next year, 20-30 percent of the American troops could be gone. Already, some units scheduled for movement to Iraq, have been told to wait, that they may not be needed.
Further cuts depend on how well Iraqi security forces do. So far, the Iraqis have been able to take over security in most of the country. But the Sunni Arab areas of central and western Iraq are still heavily armed, and very hostile to the government. The Sunni Arabs are under siege, and about twenty percent of them have already fled their homes, or even the country. But the rest continue terrorist operations, and stand and fight when Iraqi or American troops come in. The majority of the Sunni Arabs will make peace of troops come in, but first the hard core Sunni Arabs must be killed or disarmed. This is difficult, causing lots of casualties on both sides when Iraqi troops are used. Negotiation is preferred.
June 24, 2006: In the south, and in part of Baghdad, the Shia Badr and Sadr militias are driving Sunni Arabs from many areas, and killing Sunni Arab terrorists, and men who used to work for Saddam's security forces. This has created some confrontations, and fire-fights with security forces and Coalition troops, who are putting more pressure on these militias to disarm, or at least stop the violent activities.